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2016 Berlin ePrix

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2016 Berlin ePrix
Race 8 of 10 of the 2015–16 Formula E season
Race details
Date 21 May 2016
Official name 2016 FIA Formula E BMW i Berlin ePrix[1]
Location Berlin Street Circuit, Berlin, Germany
Course Street circuit
Course length 1.927 km (1.20 mi)
Distance 48 laps, 92.530 km (57.476 mi)
Weather Sunny, Air: 23.5–24.05 °C (74.30–75.29 °F), Track: 24 °C (75 °F).
Attendance 15,000
Pole position
Driver Virgin Racing
Time 57.811
Fastest lap
Driver Brazil Bruno Senna Mahindra Racing
Time 59.067 on lap 39
Podium
First e.dams-Renault
Second Audi Sport ABT
Third Audi Sport ABT

The 2016 Berlin ePrix (formally the 2016 FIA Formula E BMW i Berlin ePrix) was a Formula E motor race held on 21 May 2016 before a crowd of 15,000 people at the Berlin Street Circuit in Berlin, Germany. It was the eighth round of the 2015–16 Formula E season and the second running of the event. The 48-lap race was won by e.dams-Renault driver Sébastien Buemi after starting from second position. Daniel Abt finished in second for Audi Sport ABT and his teammate Lucas di Grassi came in third.

Jean-Éric Vergne won the pole position by posting the fastest lap in qualifying but lost the lead to Buemi heading towards the first corner on the first lap. Vergne retook the lead from Buemi at the start of lap two until Buemi moved back into the position four laps later. Buemi held the lead through the mandatory pit stops, in which drivers switched into a second car, to win his and e.Dams-Renault's third victory of the season. Further back, Abt passed Vergne and ran strongly to take second despite ignoring team orders issued to him in the race's final two laps to allow di Grassi through as he became aware of the closing Nico Prost becoming a threat.

The result meant Buemi reduced di Grassi's advantage at the top of the Drivers' Championship to one point and Sam Bird was still in third place despite finishing outside of the points-scoring positions. Jérôme d'Ambrosio maintained fourth place but was now two points ahead of Prost. e.Dams-Renault increased their lead over Audi Sport ABT in the Teams' Championship to eleven points and Virgin overtook Dragon for fourth position. Mahindra rounded out the top five with two races left in the season.

Report

Background

Strausberger Platz, where part of the race was held.

The Berlin ePrix was confirmed as part of Formula E's 2015–16 series schedule in October 2015 by the FIA World Motor Sport Council.[2] It was the eighth of ten scheduled single seater electric car races of the 2015–16 season,[3] the second running of the event, and was held on 21 May 2016 at the Berlin Street Circuit in Berlin, Germany.[3] The eleven-turn track is 2.030 kilometres (1.261 mi) long, with the pit lane on Karl-Marx-Allee and the course went around Strausberger Platz and Alexanderplatz.[4]

Before the race, Audi Sport ABT driver Lucas di Grassi led the Drivers' Championship with 126 points, eleven ahead of his nearest rival Sébastien Buemi in second, who in turn, was a further 33 points in front of third-placed Sam Bird. Jérôme d'Ambrosio was fourth on 64 points and Stéphane Sarrazin was six points behind in the battle for the position.[5] e.dams-Renault were leading the Teams' Championship with 165 points, seven in front of Audi Sport ABT in the closely fought battle for the championship. Dragon and Virgin (on 112 and 106 points) contended for third place and Mahindra rounded out the top five on 65 points.[5] e.dams-Renault and Audi Sport ABT had dominated the season, with Bird winning the Buenos Aires ePrix and d'Ambrosio securing the victory in Mexico City. Jean-Éric Vergne and Bird had each finished in second once, and Nick Heidfeld, Robin Frijns and Daniel Abt had all secured third-place results.[5]

In November 2015, it was reported that Berlin Tempelhof Airport was "highly unlikely" to hold the race because the facility was being used to shelter refugees.[6] After the series received official confirmation that they could not use Tempelhof's facilities, Formula E's chief operating officer Alejandro Agag sought to hold the event at the Norisring street circuit in Nuremberg with alternatives for Munich and Berlin.[7] Negotiations with Norisring's management ended when a decision had not been made by the 15 January deadline.[8] It was announced one month later that the German race would be held in downtown Berlin but pended approval from city authorities and motorsport's governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile.[4][9] The race came under disapproval from the mayors of the Friedrichshain and Berlin-Mitte districts Monika Herrmann and Christian Hanke who both stated that they did not want to hold the event in the city centre.[10] Although motor racing is forbidden in Germany's public roads, the Senate of Berlin granted dispensation for Formula E to hold the race on Berlin's streets in March.[11] Construction of the track started on 9 May, twelve days prior to the race.[12]

After finishing in third in the preceding Paris ePrix, Buemi was confident about his chances for the Berlin race, saying the plan was to qualify in a higher starting position and attempt to race at the front of the field: "We know we can do it as in Paris the car was super-quick; we just started too far behind to be able to do any better."[13] Abt said that while he was not interested in the drivers' standings, he wanted to finish the ePrix on the podium. He wished to celebrate the achievement with the German spectators, and it was the best method in helping his teammate di Grassi in the championship battle.[14] After winning the season's previous two races, di Grassi stated that his team's objective was to win the title and aimed to continue their recent momentum into Berlin: "Our car is a winner, our team keeps cool and stays focused when the pressure is on – in this way we can win the home race.”[14]

There was one driver change heading into the race. Having been in one of the Aguri cars since the first round of the season in Beijing, António Félix da Costa missed the ePrix because of a Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters commitment at the Red Bull Ring and was replaced by endurance racing driver René Rast.[15] The deal was confirmed in the week before the race and was originally slated to be World Endurance Championship driver Adam Carroll but the agreement fell apart.[16] It marked Rast's first participation in single-seater machinery since the Formula BMW ADAC in 2004 and practised on the team's simulator to familiarise himself with the car.[16] Oliver Turvey was set to be replaced by the Formula Renault 3.5 driver Ben Hanley because of a Super GT commitment at the Autopolis circuit, but that race was postponed because of the Kumamoto earthquakes, and his Formula E seat was reinstated.[17]

Practice and qualifying

Two practice sessions—both on Saturday morning—were held before the day's late afternoon race. The first session ran for 45 minutes and the second for 30 minutes.[18] Both sessions took place in dry weather conditions.[19] Buemi used the 200 kilowatts (270 hp) available to him and set the first practice session's fastest lap at 57.648 seconds shortly before it ended;[20] Turvey was second-fastest and held the fastest time until Buemi's lap. Di Grassi ended the session in third, with Nico Prost fourth and Bird fifth. Loïc Duval, Mike Conway, d'Ambrosio, Sarrazin and Abt rounded out the session's top ten drivers.[21] During the session, where many drivers struggled with traffic, Frijns swerved to avoid hitting Bruno Senna at the turn five and six hairpin. Di Grassi later pressed the neutral button on his car's steering wheel, causing him to briefly stop on track.[20]

Although he was limited to one timed lap as he missed the majority of the second practice session due to a battery failure on his second car, Nelson Piquet Jr. recorded the fastest time of 57.909 seconds, 0.013 seconds faster than Bird in second who was fastest until Piquet's lap.[22] Vergne and Frijns were third and fourth with Turvey fifth. Duval was sixth-fastest, Senna seventh, Abt eighth, Conway ninth and Heidfeld completed the top ten ahead of qualifying.[23] Buemi locked his tyres at turn five and impacted the barrier, damaging his front wing. The cleanup was jeopardised when Simona de Silvestro narrowly avoided colliding with Buemi's car. Buemi was able to return to the pit lane for a nose cone replacement. Sarrazin pushed hard and went straight into the turn 11 barrier, heavily damaging his car, temporarily stopping the session. Rast stopped in the sixth turn, causing yellow flags to be waved.[22][24]

Jean-Éric Vergne had the fourth pole position of his Formula E career.

Saturday afternoon's qualifying session ran for 60 minutes and was divided into four groups of five cars. Each group was determined by a lottery system and was permitted six minutes of on-track activity. All drivers were limited to two timed laps with one at maximum power. The fastest five overall competitors in the four groups participated in a "Super Pole" session with one driver on the track at any time going out in reverse order from fifth to first. Each of the five drivers was limited to one timed lap and the starting order was determined by the competitor's fastest times. The driver and team who recorded the fastest time were awarded three points towards their respective championships.[18] Qualifying took place in dry and warm weather conditions.[19]

In the first group, despite making small errors shortly before he completed his lap, Turvey paced the session,[25] seven-hundredths of a second faster than di Grassi in second who struck the kerbs at the first chicane. Frijns damaged his car's front-left tyre in a contact with the barrier and was third-quickest, ahead of Sarrazin who lost control of his vehicle at turn ten, causing the session to be stopped for a short period.[26] Vergne was the fastest driver in the second group, nearly two-tenths of a second quicker than Abt. Bird was third-fastest, ahead of Prost who lost time after he went deep heading towards the final corner. Rast completed the second group's running.[26] Heidfeld was the quickest driver in the third group,[27] almost three-tenths of a second faster than Piquet who lost control of his car at the hairpin, losing him four-tenths of a second. D'Ambrosio struggled to locate reference points on the track because of a lack of running in practice and was third-quickest.[26] Conway and de Silvestro were the two slowest drivers in the third group.[27] Buemi set the fastest overall fastest time of any competitor in the group stages in the fourth group with a time of 57.322 seconds.[27] He was 0.269 seconds faster than Senna in second. and Duval struggled with tyre grip to finish third.[26] Ma Qinghua struggled and was the slowest overall driver. After group qualifying ended, Buemi, Senna, Vergne, Heidfeld and Abt had fast enough lap times to progress them to super pole.[27]

Abt was the first driver to attempt a lap time in super pole and made an error at the final turn. He recorded a lap of 57.852 seconds.[25] Heidfeld went narrowly faster in the first sector but damaged his front-left suspension in a collision with the turn eight barrier, restricting him to fifth.[26][27] Vergne went quickest in the track's second sector, and despite narrowly colliding with Senna (who was leaving the pit lane) took provisional pole position with a lap time of 57.811 seconds.[26] Senna left the pit lane with oversteer and was one-tenth of a second slower in the first sector, and went half a second down in the following sector and ran wide in the final corner, and took fourth.[26][27] Buemi, the pole position favourite,[28] was slower than Vergne in the first sector,[27] and had similar results in the rest of the track to qualify second. This meant Vergne took his first pole position of the season, the fourth of his career, and his team's third consecutive of the year.[25][28] After qualifying, Mahindra drivers Senna and Heidfeld were demoted to 15th and 16th on the grid because of irregular tyre pressures,[29] while Sarrazin and d'Ambrosio were similarly penalised and started from the back of the field.[30] The rest of the grid lined up after penalties as Bird, Piquet, Prost, Turvey, di Grassi, Duval, de Silvestro, Conway, Frijns, Rast, Ma, Senna, Heidfeld, Sarrazin and d'Ambrosio.[19]

Race

A special feature of Formula E is the "Fan Boost" feature, an additional 100 kilowatts (130 hp) of power to use in the driver's second car. The three drivers allowed to use the boost were determined by a fan vote.[18] For the Berlin race, Buemi, Sarrazin and Heidfeld were handed the extra power.[31] Weather conditions at the start of the race were dry and sunny with the air temperature ranging between 23.5–24.05 °C (74.30–75.29 °F) and a track temperature of 24 °C (75 °F).[19] 15,000 people attended the race.[32] The race started at 16:00 Central European Summer Time (UTC+2). The chassis damage to Sarrazin's car meant his team initially announced that he would miss the event, but repairs to his vehicle were completed in time, allowing him to start the race.[33] On the grid, Buemi accelerated faster than the distracted Vergne off the line and passed him for the lead heading towards the first turn,[34] and used the turn's braking zone to keep the position.[31] Di Grassi overtook NextEV drivers Piquet and Turvey to move into sixth.[35] Piquet lost grip in the first turn; he began to slide but regained control of his car and continued. An error by Senna saw him collide with the back-end of Rast's car, causing bodywork damage to both cars.[36]

At the start of the second lap, Vergne out-braked Buemi heading into the first corner and positioned himself on the inside line to reclaim the lead in a near carbon-copy manoeuvre to which he had been subjected to by Buemi the previous lap.[31][34] As the top six concertinaed together, the damage to the cars of Rast, Piquet and Turvey prompted officials to show the trio a black flag with an orange circle, mandating their entry to the pit lane for repairs.[35] Initially Vergne began to open up a small advantage over Buemi,[37] as the latter had elected to hold off in making a move on Vergne until lap six.[36] Buemi retook the lead from Vergne by passing him around the inside driving towards the tenth turn and the two narrowly avoided contact.[35] Vergne's exit out of the corner was compromised and he was forced to defend heavily from Abt.[31] At the front of the ePrix, Buemi pulled away from the rest of the field.[36] On the eleventh lap, Abt executed a similar manoevure to Buemi on the first lap and passed Vergne for third at the turn one hairpin.[34] Bird had been pressuring Abt for third earlier in the race but was ordered to enter the pit lane as he took a kerb too fast, loosening his front wing end-plate.[35] Bird emerged in 14th,[35] and protested the penalty over his radio.[37]

Sébastien Buemi led the majority of the ePrix and took his third victory of the season.

While Buemi increased his lead over Abt to five seconds, di Grassi was in a tight bunch of cars consisting of Vergne in fourth and Prost in fifth. Di Grassi's team told him that they would attempt to keep him on the track for one lap longer than his rivals.[34] Further down the field, Frijns fought his way through into the top ten and slid and drifted through the first turn in a passing move on Duval.[36] Heidfeld had also moved through the field to run in the top ten and later mounted the kerb to overtake Conway for ninth place. Prost then drew closer to Vergne and the pressure put onto Vergne caused him to hit the bollards at the chicane. This caused the front right section of Vergne's front wing to shatter.[31][35] Vergne then took too much kerb for a second time driving into the same chicane on the next lap and this removed his front wing. Debris was littered on the track and Prost moved past Vergne to take over third position.[34][36] The mandatory pit stops, during which all drivers need to change into a second car,[18] began on lap 25 when the leaders made their stops immediately.[31][36] Di Grassi's strategy allowed him remain on track for one extra lap and made his pit stop on the 26th lap.[36] After the pit stops, Buemi kept the lead with Abt second, Prost third and di Grassi got past Vergne for fourth.[35]

With the debris from Vergne's car littered across the track at the chicane, officials called for the full course yellow flag on lap 28 to allow marshals to clean the track.[34] Racing resumed one lap later with Buemi holding an eleven-second advantage over Abt.[36][37] Bird gained two positions by passing Ma and d'Ambrosio to move into twelfth at the restart.[35] Attention focused on the battle for third place as di Grassi was closing up to Prost.[31] Di Grassi had more electrical energy than Prost and his first move on the latter saw him steer onto the outside line on the 38th lap. Di Grassi then got alongside Prost but noted the lack of room available and could not overtake him. The following lap, Di Grassi feigned a second overtaking manoevure on Prost at the same corner and passed him around the inside to move into third place.[35] Senna recorded the race's fastest lap on the 39th lap. He completed a circuit in 59.067 seconds and earned two points.[19] Soon after, it was announced that di Grassi was under investigation for speeding during the full course yellow procedure as he was drawing closer to teammate Abt.[34]

Duval lost control of his car on the 43rd lap and slid backwards into the outside barriers lining the circuit at the seventh turn. The incident necessitated the deployment of the safety car and the time gaps in the field were neutralised.[31][36][38] Although Duval's vehicle was stuck in a place where it was difficult to retrieve, course marshals were able to extract his car quickly from the track and this allowed the race to restart with two laps left.[34] Buemi kept the lead with Abt close behind.[36] Abt was informed by his team that teammate di Grassi was faster than him and was ordered to let him pass.[34][37] Abt attempted to let di Grassi through but the latter could not complete the manoevure. When Prost drew closer, Abt realised that switching positions with di Grassi carried the risk of losing a podium position and no switch took place. Buemi maintained the lead for the rest of the race to win his third victory of the season.[34][37] Abt took his best Formula E finish at the time in second and teammate di Grassi completed the podium. Off the podium, Prost secured fourth with Vergne fifth and Frijns. Heidfeld, Conway, de Silvestro and Sarrazin rounded out the points-scoring positions. Outside the top ten, the British duo of Bird and Turvey took eleventh and twelfth. They were ahead of Piquet, Ma, Senna and d'Ambrosio were the last of the classified finishers.[34]

Post-race

The top three drivers appeared on the podium to collect their trophies and spoke to the media in a later press conference. Buemi revealed that he allowed Vergne to pass him and attacked when the latter had used up more electrical energy. He later said that went for the fastest lap in his second car, and despite not claiming the award, he described the ePrix as "a good weekend" overall for him.[32] Second-place finisher Abt stated that the race was "simply amazing" and spoke of his happiness and thanked his team for providing him with a fast car. He said that from the start from the race, he was aware he could perform well and that the opposition he faced was strong.[39] Di Grassi, who finished third, spoke of his happiness in claiming the position in spite of the difficulties he faced with Vergne on his in-lap and the safety car being deployed in the race's closing laps, "But we managed to pass Prost, who made it difficult to overtake but we managed to do another podium and stay in the lead by one point. It couldn’t be closer than that going into London. Now everything is open. London, and London weather, will decide how the championship goes."[39]

After the race, di Grassi revealed to the press that he was not favourable towards team orders with expectations for the season's final race in the event somebody was challenging for the championship and remarked he would rather lose the title because of losing points to his rivals than another driver handing them to him.[40] Abt said for him it did not matter if he finished second or third but affirmed his team's objective was to win both championships: "Lucas has what he needs to win it by himself. He's an amazing racing driver."[40] Hans-Jürgen Abt, the team owner of Audi Sport ABT, accepted his son's failure to not carry out a team order and agreed that driver integrity was an important area that needed protecting, "If we lose it by three points maybe the team is not good enough. But we showed people fair motorsport and I think people will like it more."[41] Turvey and Bird were perplexed by the amount of penalties issued to drivers, with Turvey saying, "I don't know why you get a technical flag for visual damage to the car. It's frustrating. Nelson had the same issue. There were a number of cars that got technical flags, which is a shame. I don't understand why we got a penalty."[42] Buemi joined him in his criticism, claiming the safety car was sent out when there was no danger present.[42]

The result of the race meant di Grassi's advantage at the top of the Drivers' Championship had been reduced to one point over his rival Buemi. Bird maintained third place despite his non-points scoring finish and d'Ambrosio kept fourth place. Prost's fourth place result enabled him to overtake Sarrazin for fifth.[5] e.Dams-Renault still led the Teams' Championship but their advantage over Audi Sport ABT had grown to eleven points. Virgin gained one position to move into third while Dragon fell to fourth place. Mahindra rounded out the top five with two races left in the season.[5]

Classification

Qualifying

Pos. No. Driver Team Time Gap Grid
1 25 France Jean-Éric Vergne Virgin 57.811 1
2 9 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi e.Dams-Renault 57.827 +0.016 2
3 66 Germany Daniel Abt Audi Sport ABT 57.852 +0.041 3
4 21 Brazil Bruno Senna Mahindra 58.303 +0.492 151
5 23 Germany Nick Heidfeld Mahindra 59.085 +1.274 161
6 8 United Kingdom Sam Bird Virgin 57.838 4
7 1 Brazil Nelson Piquet Jr. NextEV TCR 58.026 +0.188 5
8 8 France Nico Prost e.Dams-Renault 58.028 +0.190 6
9 88 United Kingdom Oliver Turvey NextEV TCR 58.118 +0.280 7
10 11 Brazil Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport ABT 58.183 +0.345 8
11 6 France Loïc Duval Dragon 58.298 +0.460 9
12 7 Belgium Jérôme d'Ambrosio Dragon 58.501 +0.663 182
13 28 Switzerland Simona de Silvestro Andretti 58.654 +0.816 10
14 12 United Kingdom Mike Conway Venturi 58.687 +0.849 11
15 4 France Stéphane Sarrazin Venturi 58.740 +0.902 172
16 27 Netherlands Robin Frijns Andretti 58.742 +0.904 12
17 55 Germany René Rast Aguri 58.756 +0.918 13
18 77 China Ma Qinghua Aguri 59.301 +1.463 14
Source:[19]
Notes:

Race

Pos. No. Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 9 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi e.dams-Renault 48 53:46.086 2 25
2 66 Germany Daniel Abt Audi Sport ABT 48 +1.767 3 18
3 11 Brazil Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport ABT 48 +2.381 8 15
4 8 France Nico Prost e.dams-Renault 48 +3.328 6 12
5 25 France Jean-Éric Vergne Virgin 48 +4.927 1 131
6 27 Netherlands Robin Frijns Andretti 48 +6.501 12 8
7 23 Germany Nick Heidfeld Mahindra 48 +7.700 16 6
8 12 United Kingdom Mike Conway Venturi 48 +8.305 11 4
9 28 Switzerland Simona De Silvestro Andretti 48 +12.473 10 2
10 4 France Stéphane Sarrazin Venturi 48 +13.241 PL 1
11 2 United Kingdom Sam Bird Virgin 47 +1 Lap 4
12 88 United Kingdom Oliver Turvey NextEV TCR 47 +1 Lap 7
13 1 Brazil Nelson Piquet Jr. NextEV TCR 47 +1 Lap 5
14 77 China Ma Qing Hua Aguri 47 +1 Lap 14
15 21 Brazil Bruno Senna Mahindra 46 +2 Laps 15 22
16 7 Belgium Jérôme d'Ambrosio Dragon 45 +3 Laps 17
NC 55 Germany René Rast Aguri 42 +6 Laps 13
Ret 6 France Loïc Duval Dragon 39 Accident 9
Source:[3]

Notes:

  • ^1 – Three points for pole position.[18]
  • ^2 – Two points for fastest lap.[18]

Standings after the race

  • Notes: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.

References

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  41. ^ Mitchell, Scott (22 May 2016). "Abt boss accepts failed team order call in Berlin Formula E race". Autosport. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 30 October 2017. 
  42. ^ a b Mitchell, Scott (22 May 2016). "Formula E drivers frustrated with officials over Berlin penalties". Autosport. Archived from the original on 25 November 2017. Retrieved 30 October 2017. 
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FIA Formula E Championship
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